Wednesday, December 24, 2014


We got about two dozen Christmas cards this year. Twenty years ago we probably got 80.

As I recall, when I was a kid, my parents got more than 100. Mom and Dad would set aside a couple of evenings to write personal greetings, as did Janice’s parents, and they handed that down to us.

After becoming Christians, the Christmas cards sent to us from our Christian friends included an activity letter of family highlights from the last year. There was always some activity in the letter that we didn’t know about, like a trip abroad, or a new job. Like many Christmas cards, they came from people whom we really only connected with at Christmas.

I like getting cards, w-a-y more than an e-card. I like the ink signature and quick "hello." I like knowing there’s a tradition set by my friend that includes me. "I’m on their list!"

It seems most people in their 30's and certainly 20's, don’t send cards. It must be a generational thing. Maybe mailing a Christmas card is a thing of the past because social media greetings have taken over. I’m not pining for the good old days - but I do enjoy getting cards. I like making my own list and sending cards. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it. I also like the Christmas Ginger Boy cookies!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


On afternoon, in 1969, I was in the car and Mom was driving me to Northview Mall in Toronto. (It's gone now - I think there's a bunch of condos)  I looked out the window, and up in the sky there was a cloud of words that said "WAR IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT. HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM JOHN AND YOKO". 

I thought - wow, a Beatle is sending us message!

Apparently there were billboards as well, posted in 11 cities, although I didn't see any in Toronto.

The skywriting - I knew it was John Lennon. I knew it was big news.  I remember it today very clearly.

It was just a few months after the Montreal bed-in, where John and Yoko stayed in bed for three days to promote world peace.  (Side-bar: A DJ friend of mine was in the room at the time.)

There's nothing really more to say, other than - war is over if you want it....I guess we don't really want it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Photos from the staff xmas party.

Pastor Jim Woolcott and his wife Pat. Pat is attempting to
pour my coke back into the frozen bottle.

Games - Don Cowan, Luke Langman, Andrew Hamilton and Laura Evison.

Cathy Faubert winning the Special Recognition Award at the Sheepies.

Don Cowan presenting a Sheepie Award.

Laura Evison and Evan Duran.

Evan Duran accepting the Sheepie for "Rescue".

Games - Heather Hooymans, David Botting,
Pat Woolcott and Tanya Robertson.

Games - Andrew Robertson, Maria Lopez, Cathy Faubert and Kevin Faubert,
Marliene Cathline, Pip Lucas - Crystal Martin.

Heather, Henry Hooymans and me.

me and Heather Hooymans.

Pastor Jim and me.

Dennis Colley, Jay Mac, Dino and Terry Molinaro.

Tim Maasarany accepting his Sheepie.

Marcel Preston, Crofty, Brian and Marliene Cathline, Ray and Marilyn Bryson,
Melanie and Chris Greenwood.

Sky terminal. - Crofty, Pat Woolcott and Marcel.

Pip receives his Sheepie for "Most Likely To Be Arrested">

Sky Terminal

Jay Mac, Me and Terry Molinaro.

Tim Van Dyk wins the Sheepie for "Most Likely To Snap".

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Pip and me hanging out in Gastown. (overrated)
The Covenant Awards are presented by Gospel Music Association of Canada, awarding the best in Christian music. This year the ceremony was held in Langley, just outside of Vancouver. A little out of the way for most people in Christian music, but fun to get out of town and breathe in the Western air and check out the mountains that BCers are always bragging about. (They were looking majestic!)

Two weeks before flying out, a friend from my public school days found me on facebook.  David Ross lives in BC and it turns out he was going to the Awards. He offered to pick me up at the hotel in Vancouver, drive me to Langley, and return me after the show. Had he not done that, the taxi probably would have cost me $1,000 - or close. (joking)  But, wow - what a long ride!

Funny story, he texted to tell me he was ready to pick us up, waiting in the hotel parking lot but he was 45 minutes early. I was just leaving the gym in the hotel and Pip was...putting on his makeup. So, I texted David back, "we'll be right there - as soon as Pip finishes putting on his make-up!" Haha. I wondered if that would freak him out!
Stanley Park. Not sure what the totem poles are all
about, but everyone was getting their pictures
taken with them.

My travel partner was Pip Lucas, who is the Promotions Coordinator at LIFE 100.3 and the lead singer of Anthem For Today.  AFT was nominated for Rock Album of the Year, and being the manager of the band, both Pip and I had double interested in this year's awards.

The ceremony began with the "pre-awards show", which are the smaller awards. I'm not sure what that means, really - all the awards are important. I'm not sure how they differentiate, but our nomination was during this "pre" period, and no, we didn't win - thanks for asking.

Then came the fancy dinner - yum!  And then we moved into the auditorium for the major awards. Good music and an excellent crew running the live show. Fun to be an award presenter, too.

The highlight was watching The Color perform "One Sure Thing". Love the song! Big step forward for the boys!

view from Stanley Park
A couple of radio friends in Ontario asked me, "Why should I go?  What will I get out of it"?  There seems to be a need to "learn something", which isn't the case, here. It's just a chance to see all the other radio friends and the artists, who we often only see once a year. It's like a reunion. With awesome food!

We hung out in Stanley Park,Gastown and "Exit" which is a real life escape game. We got locked in "Prison" for 45 minutes. The concept is great but it was actually a let down.

Good times!  Here's hoping it's back in Toronto next year so I can take the whole band, and LIFE staff!

view from Stanley Park
How we put in time - me at the gym.

How we put in time - Pip getting ready
for the awards.

Haven't seen this guy for ... 40 years?  David Ross from Toronto. 
Our chauffeur for the night!

The Covenant Awards

Having out with Jordan and Larry of The Color.

view from our hotel in Richmond

Monday, November 10, 2014


"Footloose" is playing at a couple of Drayton Theatre playhouses. I was lucky to get the last pair of tickets to the show on the final night in St. Jacob's.  Our seats weren't together but a nice couple did a flipperoo so Janice and I could sit together.

We love plays. Yes, it's an age thing. We've been going to many Drayton productions, a couple every year, from musicals, to "thriller" plays, to documentaries - all very, very good. Dinner and a play - a great combo! (I encourage you to treat yourself to a night out. The Midland theatre is closest to Barrie.)

The "Footloose" performance in St. Jacob's was unfortunately, not up to par.  I expected much more. Here's why.

It's a story about dancing, and the ensemble dancers were quite sloppy. There wasn't a lot of effort. (Now, maybe I'm jaded from watching Dancing With the Stars and have higher expectations!) The actor playing Ren out-shone the rest.

The storyline didn't match the movie. Now, I haven't read the book (is there one?), but it's possible the play imitates the story, not the movie, but I know the movie and there were many sub-plots that were totally different.

Two of the best known scenes didn't happen.

The first is in the warehouse where Ren McCormick takes out his frustration in an athletic dance tear. That scene was deleted in the play.

The other scene is the "Let's Hear It For The Boy" scene. If you know the movie, you know the scene, where Kevin Bacon's character teaches "Willard" how to dance on the steps of the school bleacher. That scene was changed to a group performance, with Willard only one of a dozen dancers. The audience as kind to cheer, but it was a letdown, although the singer gets a "10" for nailing the vocals.
Lastly, there was a surprising amount of profanity. In the Kevin Bacon version - I can't recall any. In the update from a couple years ago, there was a bit. But, in the play, with most 50 and 60 year olds in the audience, I was disappointed.

Hard to believe that "Footloose" is already 30 years old. The songs are great and it's an easy to follow story. I have to wonder if, in 50 years, it will still be around and loved like "The Wizard of Oz" is today. Who knows.

Ok, now a treat. 2014 - just a few months ago, Kevin Bacon dances to Footloose on the Jimmy Fallon Show!  Watch - it's awesome!*!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


My drive from home to work is about 20 minutes, so of course I’m listening to LIFE 100.3 in the car. While I listen to make sure things are staying on course, I’m also drawn in as a listener, using LIFE as I hope our listeners do.

So, LIFE is on. If I haven’t spent time with God in the morning, the songs on the radio are a perfect start to my day. They act like a trigger to being in a good place with God.

I hear about 5 songs on my way to work and the words to Christian songs encourage me. If it isn’t the first song, it’s, for sure, the second song. These songs remind me that I’m a Christian. They remind me about forgiveness - maybe someone I need to forgive. Christian music reminds me that God is bigger than my problems. They remind me of the beauty around me. And overall, these songs remind me that I’m alive!

These songs remind me, at that very moment, of my goal to be a Godly guy. I need the reminder. If I substitute secular music for very long, I get sucked into a lot of junk, and then the goal of being a Godly guy is forgotten.

Sometimes, when I’m having an off day, and feel somewhat gloomy, for some reason I don’t want to hear about God. Why is that? I’ve even turned the music off because those songs remind me of who I am not and when I feel unGodly, I don’t want to be reminded of that.

But I DO need to reminded of that. In those gloomy moments I need to hear that God is bigger than a crappy, gloomy moment.

And, that’s why I love Christian music. It keeps my thoughts in line with God.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Summer used to be the only season I really loved. Conversely, winter...I hated it!  Something's changed.

Maybe it's the location. We moved from the city to "the country" and I have a view of Lake Simcoe that is amazing. It's always amazing.

In the summer, well of course it's beautiful! Blue sky, water, sailboats, late night fires. It's beautiful.

In the winter, when the Lake freezes, it's equally as interesting. Sometimes the sunrise reflects on the ice and there's beauty in that. Blue skies, cloudy skies, even the blizzards are beautiful to watch - from inside. With the leafless trees, I can see the sunrise through the branches. As the ice thickens, we take walks on the Lake, albeit cold, but fresh and inspiring.

Spring - the rebirth. The leafs takeover some of the view, but the sunrise moves a bit north where it's still visible. Morning mist rolls over the water. The ground is still wet but flowers bloom. The dock is installed bringing our view of the lake even closer. The patio chairs hit the patio.

Autumn. It used to be depressing with the shirtless summers gone and the asthmatic cold, threatening. But a few years ago I began to love Fall. Love the colours and even celebrate the change. I know winter is coming, but now I look forward to the frozen lake and the daily picturesque view. And, miraculously, the asthma I struggled with for 50 years, vanished.

It's too bad it's taken so long to appreciate all the seasons. There's something beautiful in all of them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


1983. I’m the evening DJ at CKLC radio in Kingston. The studio request line rings and it was my friend Dean Neron, a high school student a few years younger than me, who invited me to come and hear his new band Little Sister.

Dave Armstrong, Jackie Mills and Dave Barker
Somewhere in Bayridge, a suburb of Kingston, about 8 o’clock one night in January, I attended a band practice, which turned out to be an audition for a manager - me. I don’t remember all the songs they played that night, but I remember the big one - "Your Daddy Don’t Know," recorded by Toronto. It was the song that lured me in.

The next week, Dean, Jackie Mills, Dave Armstrong, Clive Oosthuizen and I met where they offered me the position of Band Manager.

"What’s my job?" I asked. I didn’t know the job description.

"Get us gigs," Dean said. Little did I know that getting gigs is the job of the booking agency, not the manager, but whatever. I signed up.

I had decided at the beginning that I wouldn’t be a travelling manager.  My full-time job at CKLC was my career and besides - this was a rock band. How long would it last, anyway?!

I started booking shows for Little Sister at high schools and bars. One of the bars we hooked up with was The Nash - also known as the International Inn in Gananogue, just outside of Kingston. The Nash was owned by a really nice guy and he booked the band on the spot.  No band reputation, no history, just me asking to play. (I think he was a CKLC fan.)

Dave Barker
After our first two nights he paid us $800. Then, he overpaid us. "I don’t want you playing any where else in Gananoque," he said.

Upstairs in the hotel room, I showed the band the cash - all paid in $20 bills, amounting to nearly $1,000. We threw the cash up in the air and swam in it! It was mind blowing!

The word quickly spread to the local booking agency in Kingston. Brian Henchey from the Dobbin Agency called me up.

"Hey do you wanna go to Perth?" he asked. He was offering us gig, but the question was funny to me. Do I wanna go to Perth? Haha.

"I don't know, what for?!" I said. Haha.

"The Perth Mews - Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  They pay $750 for the three days, plus accommodation."  I accepted, happy to have a gig.

Dean Neron and Dave Barker
The bars usually provided rooms for the performers. A room - of sorts. This was truly bad. I mean - really disgusting. The band didn’t care - it was a gig. I drove to the Saturday night show, enjoyed a Coke in the bar and looked after my band.

The bar gigs were usually three nighters, but one was a full week so the band took time off their jobs and school to make it happen.

I remember one of my first job assignments - to fire the bass player. "Will you do it for us?" they asked me. The band didn't have chemistry with the bassist and it was a complicated departure.  Our bassist was the oldest guy in the band, probably 22 and business-like. He wanted his share of everything purchased, starting with the bank account. (Yes we actually had savings). We counted the inventory of posters and business cards and cables and even unused letterhead - everything. He wanted his share of every last penny and he counted each one. Can't say I blame him - he was out and that couldn't have been fun.

The new bassist was Dave Barker. He was hired on the good recommendation by our drummer, Dean, but our guitarist and singer had never met him.  Now this is not the smartest way to hire a member, but thankfully it worked out well. Dave was character and fun and a great match for the rest of the band.

Off to The Pembroke Hotel!  I remember routing it for the band. Back then, without Internet access, we relied on paper maps. On the last night, Janice and I drove from Kingston to Pembroke to surprise the band. It was a dirty bar - like most bars at that time. Smoke filled the room, as patrons stumbled into tables, and puked on the sidewalk, ignoring the band on stage.

As I’m told by our soundman, Doogan, the band slept in til 3pm every day, while he (Doogan) and Mike the light guy went to the beach, soaked up the sun and then went to the show at night wearing white t-shirts to show off their bronze bodies, while the rest of the musicians were white as ghosts from staying inside all day. Ahhh -the Pembroke Hotel. It burnt to the ground a few years later.

Jackie Mills - "Your Daddy Don't Know"
I remember banging on the office door of the Lakeview Manor in Kingston. This was an A-level club where everyone played. On Fridays and Saturday, the Manor booked well-known acts, like Burton Cummings, the Mamas and Papas, Toronto, the Tragically Hip - a fabulous list of names, both new and veteran. The owner granted me a Monday thru Wednesday gig - and we got paid! Playing The Manor was the cherry on the resume cake for Little Sister. Even though it was an off-night, it was "The Manor."

There were two bigger shows we were honoured to play. One was opening for the Blushing Brides at Jock Hardy Arena on Queen’s Campus. The Brides were a Rolling Stones cover band had become good friends of mine, especially their manager. Even as friends, their snobby crew bullied us and gave us one minute to soundcheck, as the crowd was already entering the auditorium. The Brides continue to tour to this day.

The other big gig was opening for Rough Trade who were, at the time, one of Canada’s biggest bar bands and regularly played on Canadian radio.

Little Sister has band stories. Like the soundman (Bubba) who would work for free as long as he got to drive the truck, which by the way was named The Blue Goose. One day, as Janice and I were driving to Toronto to visit our parents, we saw the Blue Goose at the side of the road on the eastbound lanes with smoke coming off the hood, Bubba doing repairs.
Article from the Kingston Whig Standard

Looking back over the list of gigs, I don’t know how we pulled it off. Nearly every weekend was booked, and as I said, the bars were 3-nighters.  We didn't do any non-paying shows, I was commissioned on every show and there was money left for the band, too. And, to my knowledge there were no drugs in the band. As bar bands go, Little Sister was pretty clean.

In our hotel room at The Nash in Gananoque. Left to right,
Dave Armstrong (guitar), Mike Doogan (lighting guy
at this show), Mike Smith (soundman), Jackie Mills (singer),
me, Dave Barker on right (bass) and Dean Neron sitting,
Man, this was so much fun I thought I would explode! Newspaper interviews, radio interviews, shows, fans, albeit local, but hey - !  Guitarist, Dave Armstrong wrote two original songs. "If we’re a band we can’t just over other people’s songs - we have to start writing originals. "Two Kids In Grown Up Clothes" and "Depending On You" were all his, and had there been a few more months together we might have recorded both songs.

That day didn't come. Dean and bassist Dave announced they were leaving to join The Patty Ranter Band, leaving guitarist Dave and Jackie and me without a drummer or bassist.

Little Sister played out the last few shows - the last one in Picton at the Rickerton Castle Inn. It was the only show I video-taped and I still have it - a great souvenir of a really fun ride. Really fun! I remember thinking, "This is as much fun as radio. I have two awesome careers!"

I managed two more bands after that - STAGGER, another girl-fronted band, and ANA BLACK a metal band that worshipped Motley Crue. The metal band lived the part off-stage! 

While I tend to be an organized person, after the third band I had come to the conclusion that a good manager needs two things I did not have: one, money (or access to money) to make things happen, and two, industry contacts with people at the next level.  With that realization I vowed never to manage a band again, unless it was for my son or daughter.

Never say never.

I now work with Anthem For Today, which has quickly eclipsed all the bands and still building memories.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


It does, smell! I'm talking about our water.
Well is in the middle of the sidewalk, to the right
of the white flowers.

When I take a shower, it smells rotten. It's been getting worse. I took a water sample to the health unit and they said, "It's not drinkable".  Oh boy.

I remember at my parents' cottage there was a dead squirrel in the well. My dad had to shock the well.

So, we called the well guy to find the well and fix it. "There's no well". Of course there's a well - when I turn on the tap I get stinky water. He searched the property - no well.

He got his "well-finder-device". One of those goofy things people scour the beach with to find treasures. No luck.

He followed the pipes and electrical line and says, "It leads to the lake. Your water is coming up through the sprinkler system and you're getting lake water".  No, it's not lake water. The sprinkler system is removed from the lake in the winter and we still have running water. (This isn't good - I'm telling the expert well guy how it works.)

"Maybe you're siphoning off your neighbour."  That's possible. When our furnace died, it turned out to the "hot" - no make or model on the unit.

We called the Township office and who were kind enough to provide a Google Earth map, with a blue mark indicating all the wells on our street.  But guess who - no blue dot for us.

So, now it looks like we bought a house, that included a well, but it's no where to be found. "This is a lawsuit" says our real estate agent.  Oh boy.

We get another map from the "Ministry of Maps and Hidden Wells".  (or something like that)  They found our well!  "It's buried under the sidewalk!"  They dug up the sidewalk - and ta-da - a well.

Now all we have to do is - well, actually, I'm not sure. But I bet it's gonna stink.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I haven't blogged in a while - I haven't had much to say. (No smart remarks, please!**!)

A few weeks ago I was in a restaurant eating chicken fingers and I bit on something hard. Well, there's no bones in chicken fingers so I figured it was probably a crown or filling or bridge. Third guess.

Thankfully my dentist took me on the next workday and scheduled an emergency extraction. Ouch!

The surgeon was awesome - from what I remember. The anesthetic was fabulous!

The next couple of days were not too pleasant with sore gums, not just in the extracted area, but my entire lower jaw. In fact, the motion of eating has been really painful, not to mention the absence of any molars.

It's been 10 days since the extractions and I'm still on Advil.

Next step - wait four months for the bone to heal. Then get implants. People tell me they cost about $4,000 each. I need three. Zoinks!  Then, another four months to heal, then the bridge goes on.

So, in total I'll be without molars for about 8 months.

Mmmm.  I'm sensing a lot of mashed potatoes!

Friday, September 12, 2014


Jordan, me and Pip, before loading in.
My first visit to the Cadillac Lounge on Queen Street in Toronto was a year ago, when I went to see The Blushing Brides (a Rolling Stones cover band). I knew the band from my Kingston days and it had been 25 years since I last saw them! So, getting a gig for AFT at the Cadillac had some appeal to me.
Upon arriving, I found out we were not playing on the main stage but on the patio stage at the back. The patio stage was actually bigger, but the real action is in the front of the club, not the back.

It was a gig that didn’t pay, but we thought would be good for our band resume, for a possible witness opportunity, and a chance to play just because that’s what we do.

Set-up was smooth. The P.A. and soundman were provided by the bar. The staff was super nice. The food was great. And, the washrooms were actually clean!
We blasted through our 35 minute set with not one technical issue. And I’m sure all 10 people in the audience loved it, including the band parents who made up half of the crowd.

At 10:30 we packed up and left.

We love playing for youth groups. And especially large youth conferences - that seems to be where Anthem For Today really shines. We have no desire to crossover into the mainstream - we know our audience is the church. But, we thought it would be fun to step into a mainstream venue, just for a night and maybe learn a few things. We didn’t.

A great place for my buddies in the Blushing Brides but, seemingly, not our scene.

On deck - Saturday in Brampton for a church community picnic with 1,000 people! And next week London District Christian High School!